Secrets to managing office tech equipment: Minimise loss and maximise performance

May 22nd, 2017 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. Aaron O'Keeffe

Your IT infrastructure can be the difference between sustainable growth and failure, so how do you adopt the right technology? Choosing the right technology is as important as managing use. If you apply a solid IT policy through your business, you’ll end up with a cost-effective, secure IT infrastructure for your staff and customers.

Develop an IT plan

At first it can seem difficult to create a comprehensive IT plan, but a good place to start is with an audit to figure out what you need. Review current tools and processes, and assess whether they’re meeting your business objectives. Use this review to outline a framework and form your IT plan, then you’ll ensure it matches your business requirements.

Your IT plan should cover gaps in your your company’s IT requirements and the technology you need to fill these. Set a time plan for deployment, and outline the metrics you’ll use to track success.

Upgrading technology

The question of whether you should upgrade is central to your IT plan. The latest technology won’t necessarily fulfil your business requirements.

Signs you’ll benefit from upgrading include:

  • Poor performance after software upgrade – If your workstations start slowing down after a major software upgrade – such as a new Windows version – you might need to upgrade your hardware.
  • Process slowdowns – If your team is wasting time on slow programs, a software and hardware upgrade could solve this bottleneck. Alternatively, if the issue is repetitive tasks or slow processes, you may be better served finding a software solution that automates these tasks instead.
  • Extra users – Adding new users to your network and scaling up could mean you need to add extra storage space and memory to your office server.
  • Cost-effective new technologies – If you’re still using landlines and VoIP is more cost-effective for your business, you should probably upgrade. Similarly, it might be cheaper to maintain new models of multifunctional devices such as printers.

Incremental upgrades

Consider incremental upgrades. Adding extra memory or storage can give your systems a big boost, yet these are inexpensive. If your workstations are slowing down only because of RAM constraints, remember it’s much cheaper to buy RAM than to do a full upgrade. Older notebooks can be WiFi enabled by adding a WiFi network adapter. However, if your upgrade is more than half the cost of buying a new model, it’s probably better to do a full upgrade.

Choosing upgrades

Your IT plan covers the specific upgrades you’ll have. When deciding, think about whether you’ll see an immediate gain. Consider if you need extra time and resources to make the technology work. For example, you might need staff training before your business sees the gains.

Choose upgrades that can be scaled to support future expansion. Your upgrades should be compatible with future technologies you’ll be adopting. Since IT equipment is a major investment, try before you buy.

Buying technology: your options

You can make significant cost savings when choosing what to buy. Avoid cost blowouts by cutting out duplicate processes. Check for tasks, tools, and uses that can be combined. While devising your IT plan, consolidate services so you’re not buying more than you need.

You can buy or lease your technology, but always negotiate so you get the best possible price. Refurbished equipment is an excellent choice. This often comes with standard warranties. Manufacturers and retailers will often have dedicated pages for refurbished items, so check out this option to save more on your upgrade.

Leasing versus buying

You can lease everything from multifunctional printers to notebooks and desktops. Leasing might be the better option if your industry requires the latest hardware. If you don’t need to upgrade every couple of years, buying could end up more cost effective.

Security and risk management

Security and risk management issues are at the forefront for businesses of any size. Outline specific guidelines for best data security practices in the office:

  • Emails – Train staff to avoid suspicious emails. Use spam filters for your network.
  • Anti-malware – Install anti-malware software on your workstations. Set automatic updates so you get the latest malware definitions.
  • Passwords – Use strong passwords and encourage staff to change them regularly, especially in mobile devices and tablets used outside the office. We recommend a minimum of 8 characters length, one capital, one number, and an ascii character (such as !).
  • Software firewall – Make sure a software firewall is installed on your network.
  • Mobile devices – Mobile devices and bring-your-own-device devices (BYOD) could expose your network to more risk. Provide guidelines about connecting mobile devices to your work systems.
  • Data storage and backup – A single malware attack could wipe out all your data. Have a backup plan in place and conduct backups at least once a day. Explore cloud storage solutions as these can be cost effective.

Check whether your business falls under the Australian Privacy Principles. If you do, make sure these are incorporated into your IT policies.

Wireless connections

Ensure your WiFi is set up securely. When setting up a new WiFi device, change the default password. Don’t broadcast your Service Set Identifier (SSID) as this makes your connection visible to people close by and could encourage unauthorised users to steal bandwidth. Activate WPA2 encryption of your connections for additional security.

Wireless digital collaboration helps you save paper and it can speed up processes. You can share network resources through a server, a network attached storage (NAS) device, or inbuilt USB ports on your modem router (for printers and other peripherals). If you use Windows, you can set up HomeGroups to share data with the rest of the network. Consider the most secure collaboration options for your office.

Your IT infrastructure has a major impact on your bottom line, and you can leverage it successfully only if you develop a tailored plan. Evaluate what you need, assess the necessity for upgrades before committing, and take security seriously. A successful IT plan will help you stay competitive and grow sustainably.

To discuss your internet plan options with an expert, 
contact the Australian-based Aussie Broadband team today.

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About the author

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron works from an office in the tropical Northern Territory, inciting intense jealousy from his Victorian workmates during winter. He’s an expert in IT solutions from the ground up. Aaron is National Sales Manager of Aussie Broadband, which specialises in bespoke telco solutions for corporate and government customers.